will be able to remove, cut, re-weld and reinstall solar panels
to make adjustments to a wind generator based on given site
requirements. Students will also learn battery storage techniques and energy transfer systems that will help customers
shave peak energy costs and potentially sell unused energy back
to the local utility.
The facility will also be a center for research and development where an electrical contractor can engineer and
demonstrate a client-site application. This allows contractors
to solve site issues, giving students real-world training while
meeting client’s needs cost effectively.
The training facility was designed to showcase renewable
applications. They include:
• A 5-kw Bergey Wind turbine which will be used to
teach electricians and contractors about small-scale wind tur-
bine energy. The wind turbine produces electricity, which is
then sent back to the panelboard to help offset the building
electrical loads. The wind turbine is supported by a monopole
that can be hydraulically raised and lowered in one minute.
• A 3-k W dual axis solar PV tracker that harvests up
to 40 percent more of the sun’s energy than a standard fixed
tilt angle solar PV array. The array uses Sharp 250 W solar
modules and Enphase micro-inverters. The micro-inverter
system allows the DC voltage to be converted to AC voltage,
as the micro-inverter is physically located right behind the
solar panel. AC is being directly supplied back into the AC
• A 5-k W asphalt roof solar PV array and a 5-k W metal
seam roof solar array that are used to teach the students how
to properly install solar PV arrays on these two different roof
applications using proper PPE and safety techniques. Each PV
array uses Sharp 250 W modules, but each has a different type
of central inverter—the asphalt roof uses a 50-kw SMA inverter
and the metal-seam roof uses 5-kw Fronius inverters. Each system also utilizes different racking systems.
• A smart-grid application encompassing three dif-
ferent solar arrays totaling 73 k W solar power utilizing one
100-k W bi-directional inverter with energy storage technology
incorporated into the system. The three different solar array
systems are a 45-k W ground-mounted solar PV array, a 10-k W
roof-mounted solar array and an 18-k W solar carport.
The facility was designed to accommodate future technolo-
gies as they become perfected and more readily available. Some
of these future technologies include fuel cell technology, fly-
wheel energy storage, vehicle-to-grid power technology and
wireless energy transfer vehicle charging stations.
“The Renewable Energy Training Field serves many func-
tions,” Ohde said, pointing to different renewable energy
technologies and smart-grid applications such as solar pho-
tovoltaic systems, wind generation, battery energy storage
systems and electrical vehicle charging stations. “Each of the
components were designed to power the IN-TECH electri-
cal power needs and permit the installer to have top-notch,
hand-on projects. That is critical to making sure the installer
is well-rounded in the renewable energy field.”
NECA Chicago and IBEW Local #134 want the general pub-
lic to learn about renewable energy applications and “smart
grid” technology and how they can benefit from these technolo-
gies by ultimately saving money and reducing carbon emissions.
Additionally, they want the public to understand that solar
storage improves the reliability and stability of the grid. For
example, it takes seconds for a solar storage unit to respond to
the smart grid’s request for more power compared to up to 20
minutes for a turbine in a traditional power plant, thus reducing
power outages and other issues.
Project organizers said there are fewer than 50 renewable
certified electricians in Illinois and about 500 nationwide, most
of them in California. The main certifying bodies are the North
American Board of Solar Energy Practitioners (NABSEP) and
Interstate Renewable Energy Council. This facility is poised
to add to the total.
“The future is clear,” Don Fill, business manager and
financial secretary of IBEW Local #134, said. “There was one
choice and that was to meet the growing demand for renewable
energy. Contractors will be able to take requests from customers knowing they have electricians with the best training and
who certified in renewable energy. The Renewable Energy
Training Field, along with other state-of-the-art IN-TECH
training, produces electricians who can handle anything in the